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Leads

  • Developing the story
    • Lead makes a promise
    • Follow through
      • Build the story, paragraph by paragraph
      • From most important information to least important information
      • Link each paragraph with transitions

  • The Lead
    • Unifying theme of story
      • Set by LEAD
        • Sets tone and direction of story
        • Pulls reader into story
    • Find the theme:
      • What happened?
      • Why does it matter?
  • Good leads
    • Try to encapsulate main element(s) of the story:
      • grab the attention of busy readers and
      • entice them to read further.
    • Make every word count.
    • Have a tone that fits the story.
      • Appropriate to the event or situation.


  • Kinds of leads
    • Straight news lead
      • Hard lead
    • Summary lead
    • Blind lead
      • Soft lead
    • Direct address lead
    • Question lead
    • Direct quote lead

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  • Hard & soft leads
    • Hard lead
      • Most common
      • States in a direct way what happened
        • Tells the reader what’s coming in story
      • The lead most used in hard news and breaking stories

    • Soft lead
      • Delays the main news
      • Most frequently used on depth and feature stories, as well as broadcast
      • Can top hard news to pique readers’ interest


  • Hard lead
    • Readable, straightforward statement
      • Information the writer has decided is most important
      • Usually answers some of 5 W’s & H.
      • Tells reader why story is being singled out for news coverage.
      • Try to limit to 30 words.


  • Hard leads

    • Straight news lead:

    The World Health Organization declared the Zika virus and its suspected link to birth defects an international public health emergency on Monday, a rare move that signals the seriousness of the outbreak and gives countries new tools to fight it.

    The appearance of the Zika virus triggered declarations of public health emergencies Wednesday in four Florida counties, including Santa Rosa.

    Northwest Florida Daily News, Feb. 3, 2016
    http://www.nwfdailynews.com/news/20160203/zika-virus-emergency-declared-in-santa-rosa-county-document 

    • Breaking news lead

    GRAND ISLE, La. – An offshore oil rig exploded today in the Gulf of Mexico, west of the site of the April blast that caused a massive oil spill.

    AP, Sept. 2, 2010

  • Soft leads
    • Especially broadcast (throwaway leads)
      • Delay the main news until listener is primed to the subject & really listening
        • First sentence is relevant but not critical
          • Catch listener’s attention
          • Orient listener for what is to follow.
      • Second sentence is critical

      • People usually listen much less attentively than they read
    • Used frequently in print to get readers’ attention
      • But best to go with hard leads for spot news

    The inevitable finally has caught up with the invincible.

United Press International on Notre Dame’s
snapping Oklahoma’s 48-game winning streak



For decades they have done battle with violent Yakuza gangsters and crafty Sokaiya racketeers, but the police have seen the alarming new face of crime in Japan — and it’s wrinkled.

London Times, Jan. 31, 2006
(On statistics of crime involving 65+ seniors,
from 1 in 50 in 1990 to 1 in 10 in 2005)

CLERMONT, Fla. — The citrus industry has fallen on hard times. But there's still hope left.

Orlando Sentinel, in Morning Ag Clips, Feb. 4, 2016
https://www.morningagclips.com/grove-visits-funding-vital-to-saving-citrus/ 

Florida officials have declared a public health emergency in four counties with confirmed Zika virus cases, underscoring the increasing concern in the United States. Meanwhile, U.S. health officials have added two more countries to the travel advisory for pregnant women.

Washington Post, Feb. 3, 2016
https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/to-your-health/wp/2016/02/03/florida-declares-health-emergency-over-zika-cases/

From the Arabian Peninsula to northern India to California’s Central Valley, nearly a third of the world’s 37 largest aquifers are being drained faster than they are being replenished, according to a recent study led by scientists at the University of California, Irvine. The aquifers are concentrated in food-producing regions that support up to two billion people.

Felicity Barringer. “World’s Aquifers Losing Replenishment Race, Researchers Say.”
New York Times, June 25, 2015. http://www.nytimes.com/2015/06/26/science/worlds-aquifers-losing-replenishment-race-researchers-say.html?emc=eta1

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  • Blind Leads
    • People who are not well known are not named until later in the story.

A man died Monday morning, apparently electrocuted when a machine he was using to dig a hole hit an underground power line.

According to preliminary police reports, the accident happened around 11:30 a.m. at the Tuscan Bend apartment complex at 3009 Archer Road….

Gainesville Police Department Capt. Ed Book said at least one other worker was injured to an unknown extent when he tried to help the man and was also shocked.                   

Gainesville Sun, Aug. 11, 2011

GAINESVILLE, Fla. — University of Florida Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences researchers believe they’re on the verge of helping conserve the popular but endangered Ghost Orchid, a plant that’s often poached.

“We’ve successfully developed procedures to culture plants from seeds in the lab and then successfully acclimatize them into our greenhouse,” said Michael Kane, professor of environmental horticulture at UF/IFAS. “We’ve also obtained a high survival and vigorous re-growth rate when they’re planted back into the wild.”

This rare orchid is unique for several reasons. First,…

UF/IFAS News, Jan. 26, 2016,
http://news.ifas.ufl.edu/2016/01/ufifas-scientists-preserve-the-endangered-ghost-orchid/
 

  • Not so much
    • Direct address leads (second person)
      • Should be used sparingly
      • Must follow up quickly
      • Often a question lead

    • Question lead
      • Also used sparingly
      • Must follow up quickly

    • Quote Lead

“Bury your mistakes,” Rupert Murdoch is fond of saying. But some mistakes don’t stay buried, no matter how much money you throw at them.

New York Times, July 17, 2011
 
Story by David Carr on Murcoch’s historic use of “blunt force spending”
to escape judgment, settle cases against Fox News Corporation and silence critics.


"I have the worst job in the Army.”
Chaplain Col. William J. "Bill" Hughes spoke with his trademark, gentle Tennessee accent. But he didn't smile. His new job — in the event of a ground war — will be to minister to Fort Hood families whose loved ones have been killed in action in the Middle East.

    • Can be partial quote:

LONDON —Julian Assange, the WikiLeaks founder, said on Tuesday that the effort to extradite him to Sweden to face allegations of sexual misconduct represented a “distortion of evidence and fact.”

 — New York Times, Feb. 8, 2011

  • Quote leads: Can paraphrase:

    Florida's agricultural commissioner said Monday that the path of Hurricane Irma "could not have been more lethal" to the state's farmers and that the scope of damage to the state's fruits and vegetables is unprecedented.

Associated Press, Sept. 18, 2017

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  • Soft lead and follow through to nut graf

Here’s a little math problem:

In 2005, just 45% of the fifth-graders at Romona Elementary School in Hollywood scored at grade level on a standardized test. In 2006, that figure rose to 76%. What was the difference?

If you answered 31 percentage points, you are correct. You could also express it as a 69% increase.

But there is another, more intriguing answer: The difference between the two years may have been Singapore math.

At the start of the 2005-2006 school year, Romona began using textbooks developed for use in Singapore, A Southeast Asian city-state whose pupils consistently rank No. 1 in international math comparisons. Romona’s math scores soared.

“It’s wonderful,” said Principal Susan Arcaris….

    Los Angeles Times, March 9, 2008

  • Avoid dangling leads
  • The BUS Student Senate voted 10-9 Wednesday to suspend student body president I.N. Trubbelle pending an investigation into charges that she violated campaigning rules to get elected.
    The Senate also authorized $100 for flowers for graduation ceremonies in May.

  • Constructing a lead
    • Choose the most important or interesting information
      • List the 5 Ws and H of the story (likely won't use all in the lead).
    • Build into a single core sentence
      • Subject, Verb, Object
        • Klugh pleaded guilty
    • Flesh out the bare-bones core so it reads well, adding significant detail.
      • Professor N.O. Klugh pleaded guilty in superior court Wednesday to reckless driving.

  • Write a lead for a student newspaper
    • In-class exercise
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